Sudan: Response Plan to Combat the Spread of Coronavirus

Khartoum — As of 18 March, one COVID-19 death has been confirmed in Sudan, while 30 suspected cases are in isolation, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in its latest Situation Report on Thursday. Sudan's import of medicines and medical supplies continues to be affected by the economic crisis. Desert locust swarms invade southern parts of the Red Sea coast.

According to the latest update from the Sudanese Ministry of Health as of 18 March, only one COVID-19 death has been confirmed in Sudan, while 30 suspected cases were in isolation.

Yet, OCHA reported in a Flash Update today that 270 previously quarantined people (including those quarantined at border crossings) have been discharged while 67 people remain in isolation centres. The majority of people in isolation are in Khartoum state with one person in each of the following states: North Darfur, North Kordofan, West Kordofan, River Nile state, Kassala, and Red Sea state.

UN agencies and partners continue distributing information as well as education and communication materials on COVID-19 prevention.

The UN Children's Fund (Unicef) has mobilised $370,000 for Infection Prevention and Control supplies for use in points of entries to Sudan as well as in ambulances. An additional $200,000 has been mobilised for communications to prevent the spread of the outbreak. The Sudan Humanitarian Fund has allocated $500,000 to support COVID-19 preparedness in Sudan.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is working with the temporary quarantine teams to ensure that women and girls of reproductive age that are admitted will receive dignity kits and that visibly pregnant women will receive clean delivery kits. The isolation centre in southern Khartoum has been designated for the treatment of pregnant women.

COVID-19 response plan

The Sudanese Heath Ministry, with support from the WHO, developed a countrywide preparedness and response plan for the coronavirus, at a cost of $44 million. In turn, the Humanitarian Country Team has finalised a country preparedness and repose plan for COVID-19 in support of the government's plan.

All efforts will be made to sustain humanitarian operations while at the same time controlling the spread of the contagious virus.

The Sudanese government has created two isolation centres for COVID-19 patients. In addition, military hospitals in Khartoum and in the states are to act as centres for shelter and treatment.

All schools, religious institutes, universities, colleges and higher institutes have been closed for one month, starting from 14 March. Basic certification exams in all states have been be postponed until further notice.

Yesterday, the Government of Sudan announced the temporary opening of airports and border crossings to allow Sudanese citizens stranded abroad to return home.

WHO rated Sudan as "at-risk" for COVID-19 spread based on risk profile and capacity of the country to respond to a potential outbreak.

Sudan's health system is marked by decades of limited investment, underfunding, and lack of qualified staff, infrastructure, equipment, medicines and supplies.

Economic crisis continues to impact availability of medicines

A survey carried out by the Sudanese Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in July last year indicated that the availability of medicine was only 43 per cent of the requirements in the National Medical Supply Fund (NMSF), nearly 49 per cent in the National Health Insurance Fund, and 59 per cent in the private sector.

East Darfur, White Nile state, Khartoum and Blue Nile state had the highest availability of medicines, while West Darfur, Red Sea state, South Kordofan, and the Northern States had less availability of medicines.

The Foreign Trade Statistical Digest, 4th quarter of 2019 by the Central Bank of Sudan indicates that the country imported $367 million worth of medicines in 2019. While this is an increase of about $47 million (15 per cent) compared to 2018, it is $91 million (20 per cent) lower compared to 2017.

Desert locusts

Two immature desert locust swarms invaded the southern parts of the Red Sea coast through the Sudanese-Eritrean border, according to the latest update from Sudan's Plant Protection Directorate (PPD). More swarms are expected to invade the southern Red Sea coast in Sudan.

Survey operations continue at the winter breeding areas where, mature or immature adults of low density were detected in several locations along the Red Sea coast. Meanwhile, some irrigated agricultural scheme locations in summer breeding areas near Dongola in Northern State were surveyed, with no locust identified.

For response in Sudan, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has requested $9 million to support control measures, safeguard livelihoods, and promote early recovery.

FAO has so far mobilised $1.55 million. The United Kingdom's Department for International Development will provide an additional $2 million for the desert locust response.

According to FAO, the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is the most destructive migratory pest in the world. The desert locusts are ravenous eaters who consume their own weight every day, targeting food crops and forage.

Radio Dabanga's editorial independence means that we can continue to provide factual updates about political developments to Sudanese and international actors, educate people about how to avoid outbreaks of infectious diseases, and provide a window to the world for those in all corners of Sudan. Support Radio Dabanga for as little as €2.50, the equivalent of a cup of coffee.

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